Students offer health screenings, hone skills at Buddhist temple

Members of the DMU Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association are set to provide free health screenings at Wat Phothisomphan Buddhist Temple. (DMU photos by Brett T. Roseman)

A dozen DMU students and two faculty members recently sought to chip away at some of the basic barriers to health care access by spending part of a Sunday at Wat Phothisomphan, a Buddhist temple in Des Moines. They offered screenings for lipids, blood sugar and hemoglobin levels and took blood pressure, height, weight and body fat measurements.

The activity was sponsored by the DMU Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA), which is in its third year. Last year, the association similarly worked to promote health and wellness at Des Moines’ Asian Heritage Festival, or “CelebrAsian.”

“We want to reach out to promote health and wellness in the local Asian American community,” says Calvin Fung, a second-year osteopathic medical student and APAMSA co-president. “Some temple members infrequently go to the doctor due to fear of being diagnosed with a serious illness. Some do not have health insurance. For DMU students, we had the opportunity to reach out to the local Des Moines Asian community, especially one that is mainly comprised of immigrants. We learned a little about the culture and values of Buddhists.”

The students were supervised by Noreen O’Shea, D.O., FAAFP, assistant professor of behavioral health, medical humanities and bioethics, and Teresa Aoki, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine. “The students did the hard work of running all the testing. Dr. Aoki and I interpreted the results for the participants,” says Dr. O’Shea. “The community was so welcoming, and they fed us after we were done.”

“It was an invaluable learning experience, and we hope to do another one soon,” Calvin says. 

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